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Complaints

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The Complaint Process

 

The South Dakota State Board of Dentistry (Board) is one of twelve regulatory boards that fall under the purview of the Department of Health.  Each of these regulatory boards has a duty to review and investigate alleged violations of any law governing its licensees and registrants.  State law authorizes the Board to take action against the license or registration of a dentist, dental hygienist, registered dental assistant or dental radiographer in certain circumstances. Specific grounds for action are outlined in SDCL 36-6A-59.  The Board has no authority under state law to mediate a billing dispute between a dentist and a patient or to intervene in matters pertaining to business practices. 

The Complaint Process has 3 steps that include the following:

Step 1: Complaint

  • Anyone who believes that a dentist, dental hygienist, registered dental assistant or dental radiographer has violated any law governing his or her practice can file a complaint.
  • Each complaint must include a detailed written explanation, including dates, times, places, and persons involved.  Additionally, a release of medical records will be requested from the complainant when necessary.  
  • The Board does not accept anonymous complaints unless an immediate threat to the health or welfare of patients exists.

Step 2: Investigation

  • If the facts, as alleged, would amount to a violation of law and the person is licensed as a dentist, dental hygienist, registered dental assistant or dental radiographer in the state of South Dakota, an investigation into the facts of the case is begun. 
  • The complaint is turned over to investigators appointed by the Board.   The licensee or registrant is notified of the complaint and provided an opportunity to respond.  Evidence is gathered and interviews are conducted by the investigators.
  • During the investigation, the existence of the complaint is confidential.  Only the investigative team, including the Board President, investigators, Board staff and the Board’s assigned assistant attorney general, receive information related to a complaint.  The Board members are not involved in the investigation to ensure they remain unbiased if an agreed disposition or public hearing becomes necessary.  
  • When the investigative process is complete, a decision is made about whether there is sufficient evidence to prove a violation of a statute or administrative rule enforced by the Board by clear and convincing evidence.

Step 3: Final Resolution

  • A complaint may be resolved in any of the following ways.  The final disposition of the complaint will be made known to the complainant. 
    • Dismissal: The investigator, in consultation with the investigative team, may recommend that the complaint be dismissed if it is without merit or if there is not sufficient evidence to prove a violation of a statute or administrative rule enforced by the Board by clear and convincing evidence.  The President or the Board can dismiss a complaint. 
      • A Board member is disqualified from participating in any decision rendered by the Board if the Board member participated in the investigation or the Board member has a conflict of interest in the case.
      • If a case is dismissed, there is no public record of the complaint.
    • Agreed Disposition: If evidence obtained during the investigation supports a violation of a statute or administrative rule enforced by the Board by clear and convincing evidence, the investigator, in consultation with the investigative team, may negotiate an agreed disposition with the licensee or registrant.  This agreed disposition will outline the facts of the violation and an appropriate sanction. 
      • This agreed disposition must be approved by the Board.  If approved, the agreed disposition will become a public record.  If required, a report will be made to the National Practitioner Databank.   
      • A Board member is disqualified from participating in any decision rendered by the Board if the Board member participated in the investigation or the Board member has a conflict of interest in the case.
    • Public Hearing: If evidence obtained during the investigation supports a violation of a statute or administrative rule enforced by the Board by clear and convincing evidence and an agreed disposition cannot be negotiated, the licensee or registrant may be noticed for a public hearing.   
      • A hearing examiner will conduct the public hearing.  A record of all public hearings and proceedings is kept.
      • The licensee or registrant has the right to be represented by legal counsel and to be present during the giving of all evidence.
      • The licensee or registrant shall have a reasonable opportunity to inspect all documentary evidence, examine and cross examine witnesses, present evidence in support of his or her interest, and have subpoenas issued to compel attendance of witnesses and production of evidence on his or her behalf.
      • After a public hearing, the Board may dismiss the complaint or take action as authorized by law.
      • A Board member is disqualified from participating in any decision rendered by the Board if the Board member participated in the investigation or the Board member has a conflict of interest in the case.
      • The separation of the Board’s investigative and prosecutorial functions from the adjudication (judging) function is necessary to guarantee due process to any individual charged with a violation.
      • Evidence presented, along with any final order of the Board, will become a public record.  If required, a report will be made to the National Practitioner Databank.

If you have any questions regarding this process, do not hesitate to contact the Board of Dentistry office.  

 

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